There are many short and long-term benefits to eating healthy. Eating right can lead to a long and healthy life. Weight loss can also be attributed to eating a healthy diet in accordance with exercise. Other than staying in good shape, eating healthy can also help to maintain healthy hair, skin, and nails. Improved energy is another exceptional benefit of enjoying a healthy diet. Eating healthy also supports the immune system which can help to guard against many health problems and diseases. According to Dr. Christine H. Farlow, D.C. (2002) eating healthy can “prevent certain diseases known to be a related to diet and nutrition, particularly cancer, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity.” The United States government issues official dietary guidelines based on nutritional research. These describe an overall pattern of balanced diet and activity for good health. An important part in eating healthy and maintaining a balanced diet understands the Nutrition Facts label found on most packaged food products. The Nutrition Facts food label is designed to help the consumer make nutritious choices when selecting foods. The Nutrition Facts label offers information about serving size, calories, and several nutrients which helps to give an overall picture of the nutritional qualities of each food.
To live in good health, the human body needs proteins, fats, and carbohydrates as well as vitamins and minerals. Prepared Foods (1998) reports “an overwhelming 90% of people surveyed (178 million) consume low-calorie, reduced-fat and light foods and beverages.” A proper caloric intake is an important part of eating healthy. Healthful, balanced diets typically require about 2,000 to 3,000 calories each day, depending on weight and personal activity level. To maintain an ideal body weight, calories consumed must be offset by calories expended. To lose weight, less active people would generally have to reduce the amount of calories consumed more than someone who is more physically active. Protein is essential for the body’s muscles, skin, tissues, and almost every other body part. The official Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for adult men and women is about 55 grams of protein per day for a 150-pound person (Page, 2001). Page (2001) also states…Americans eat too much protein for good health. Unlike carnivorous animals whose body systems are adapted to a meat diet, humans who consume more than half of their calories as meat are at risk for fatal protein poisoning (a serious watchword for dieters on the new extra high-protein "zone" diets).
Even in the leanest cuts of meats many of the calories come from fat. Proteins from vegetable sources such as whole grains, nuts, and seeds can satisfy all of the body’s protein needs. Of the three main sources of calories (protein, fat, and carbohydrates), protein is the nutrient that is least likely to be stored as body fat. While many people may consume too much fat in their diets, avoiding it altogether is not beneficial either. Incorporating fat into a healthy diet “provides energy and essential fatty acids, carries other fat-soluble nutrients (vitamins)” and “is part of cell membranes, membranes around nerves, hormones, and bile (for fat digestion)” (WebMD, 2007). All food fats are mixtures of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The fats from meat and dairy products are high in saturated fat and are solid at room temperature. Monounsaturated fats become solid when placed under refrigeration but are liquid at room temperature. Polyunsaturated fats remain liquid even when refrigerated (Fraser, 2005). Diets high in foods that contain high-levels of saturated fats raise levels of cholesterol in the blood. Quite the opposite, diets that substitute monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats for saturated fats reduce blood cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol is not always a bad thing. There are two types of cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is also referred to as bad cholesterol. LDL gets deposited in arteries and can eventually cause blockages. What is often called good cholesterol is high-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL moves cholesterol from the arteries and takes it to the liver which removes the cholesterol from the body (American Heart Association, 2007). A good way to lower bad cholesterol is to eat smaller amounts of foods high in saturated fat. Eating foods high in cholesterol also raises the level of LDL cholesterol in the blood.
The human body requires vitamins and minerals from food for efficient daily operation but ingesting too many vitamins and minerals can cause ill effects. Fat soluble vitamins must be eaten along with fat in order to be absorbed. They can be stored by the body and, if over consumed, can build up to harmful levels. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water and are easily excreted. Because of this, water-soluble vitamins must be supplied to the diet frequently, and excessive intake rarely causes problems. Eating a healthy diet that contains an adequate amount and variety of foods easily meets daily requirements for most essential minerals. Sodium is a prominent exception since most people often consume more than the quantity needed.
All the nutrients needed for a healthy diet are readily available from food. If dietary guidelines are followed properly and foods are eaten in the proper proportions, nutritional supplements should not be necessary. Supplements do not contain the valuable components of foods in their entirety, and an excessive amount of any nutritional supplement could do harm rather than good. Brennan (2004) claims “Dietitians, nutritionists and other experts are all agreed that apart from small groups of people in special situations, most of us do not need to have vitamins or food supplements.” Water is a vital nutrient in a healthy diet and is needed for survival. Water makes up most of the body’s weight and is needed for nearly every body function. Water helps the body digest food and transports important nutrients throughout the body. Maintaining a normal body temperature is also dependant on water. The body’s normal loss of water through perspiration and through the urine can easily be replaced by the water ingested.
Though wine and beer contain trace amounts of some nutrients, alcohol’s calories are mostly empty, meaning the calories contain no nutritional value. Excessive consumption is an ineffective way to nourish the body. Even so, alcohol can bring pleasure to the palate and for anyone who does not have medical or behavioral reason to avoid it may enjoy it, in moderation, without guilt. Research shows that “moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with beneficial effects on coronary heart disease.” (Ziegler, Kostner, Thallinger, Bur, Brunner, Wolzt, Joukhadar, 2005). This benefit does not necessarily outweigh the possible damage to health and society caused by alcohol abuse. Alcohol does not need to be part of a healthy diet to reduce the risk of heart disease. Heart disease can be reduced by other healthful habits such as frequent exercise. Even though it may be difficult to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle, eating healthy has many benefits and is an important part of developing an overall healthy way of life. Healthful eating can prevent many diseases and health problems. Eating right can lead to a long and healthy life. A balanced diet can help with the prevention of many diseases that can be associated to improper nutrition. Dietary guidelines play an important role in a balanced diet. The human body needs the proper amount of proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals to live in good health. Healthful eating is an important part of everyone’s lives.
American Heart Association. (2007). LDL and HDL Cholesterol: What’s Bad and What’s Good?
Brennan, C. (2004). Vitamin Supplements Are Usually Unnecessary.
Farlow, Christine H. (2002). Healthy Eating Advisor.
Fat and Calorie Reduction Guide. (1998). Prepared Foods, 167(12), 75.
Fraser, S. (2005). The Skinny on Fat: Jack Sprat Could Eat No Fat. Should You?. Current Health 2, a Weekly Reader publication, 31(6), 8.
Page, L. (2001). Your Pharmacy for Health and Healing. Total Health, 23(5), 30.
WebMD. (2007). Healthy Eating—Why is Healthy Eating Important. Ziegler, S., Kostner, K., Thallinger, C., Bur, A., Brunner, M., Wolzt, M., & Joukhadar, C. (2005). Wine Ingestion Has No Effect on Lipid Peroxidation Products. Pharma